Tuesday, July 20, 2004

That's My Shark

I'm still reeling from this week's episode of Six Feet Under (#44, "That's My Dog"). TV shows don't usually hit me on this visceral a level, but I felt physically ill watching the uninterrupted/relentless second half hour. (Can't see how to continue without a few possible SPOILERS, so show fans who haven't seen the ep yet, beware.) I was even afraid to go to sleep because of potential nightmares.

That doesn't mean I loved the episode at all: far from it. My hubby/SO/whatever left the room in outrage, and I came close to turning the channel myself. (That used to happen all the time when we watched the horrendously written and performed QUEER AS FOLK, but never during 6FU before.) The show's plunge into soap operadom has been building for the last couple of seasons, and there have been many complaints from critics about the decline in the current season, but the previous episode (#43) was one of the best ever (if I may use that phrase without sounding like The Comic Book Store Guy from another Sunday show). I particularly appreciate the way the writers have handled the kink/BDSM element with Brenda's new boyfriend, for instance -- which has so far been respectful while still maintaining a healthy sense of humor.

But this business with David and the sociopath went way too far. My hub's theory is that I reacted so severely both because the episode was intense, AND because it was so badly done. Hub (how 'bout I call him that for a while?), a LEO not unlike David's on-again/off-again partner Keith, couldn't believe David never fought back, that he walked into the whole situation like a fool, and so on.

I didn't really have a problem with David's behavior, because I could see myself doing many of the same things he did (assuming I was naive enough to pick up a hitchhiker in LA in the first place, which is a miiiiiiighty big suspension of disbelief). No, that was where the sinking feeling in my stomach came from: I could identify all too easily with his reactions.

And that (in case you're wondering what this rant has to do with batsex) is where my superhero fantasies differ sharply from my Bruce Wayne existence. When I'm playing Batman, I may choose to walk into a trap, but I do so with the understanding that I have the training, the focus, and the equipment to free myself (and the knowledge that it's all make-believe, of course). In "real life," I don't have any of that, and so things that might make me hard in a play scenario would simply scare the shit out of me if they ever really happened to me.

The 6FU encounter included bondage, gunplay, physical abuse, and psychological terrorism, each of which I've employed in bat-scenes in the past at one time or another, but I couldn't get off on any of it in this context. It's like my problem with the show Oz: it looks so much like a porn video I might jerk off to, but it's placed in a different, more realistic world (well, if you consider the hellhole prison of the title to be realistic, and I simply don't) where there's nothing sexy at all about forced rape, torture, murder, and the other horrors onscreen.

While I recognized the quality of writing and performing in Oz (and found some of the actors, like Chris Meloni, absolutely fuckalicious), I didn't stick with the series past one full episode. It was just too dark too much of the time. I know I'll give 6FU another chance, maybe two, but I can't help thinking the program has, yes, jumped the shark.

[Any of youse got any opinons on the matter? Post 'em in the comments below...]

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